Floaty and sensitive…Could this be the sub £500 ride we’ve all been waiting for?
Fuji Sportif 2.5
The 14 speed spec of the Fuji looks poor on paper but the outstanding ride quality of the frame and forks plus some really neat design detail shine straight through direct spec comparisons when you hit the road.
FRAME AND FORKS
The 2.5 is the cheapest bike in the Fuji range that gets the custom double butted A2-SL Sportive frameset and it’s a beauty. The hydraulically pressure formed main tubes include a down tube that switches from tall and narrow for headtube support to flat and broad for maximum pedalling stiffness at the bottom bracket. The broad, shallow top tube gets a subtle curve between the tall headtube and skinny seat tube and 27.2mm seat post too. The curvy chainstays are particularly slim too, while the straight A frame seatstays extend up from the 3D rear wheel dropouts with built in rack mounts as well as front and rear mudguard fixtures.
You’re only getting this frame at £400 because of a recent £75 price drop by Evans though and you’re also getting an alloy rather than a carbon fibre bladed fork.
More significantly the 2.5 is running Shimano Tourney gears and shifters which are functionally and mechanically very different from the Claris and Sora gears on the other bikes here. That means just seven relatively crude gear cogs rather than a well shaped, smooth shifting eight-speed cassette and there’s noticeably more grumble and rumble from the drivetrain, too. The gear mechanisms are a basic pressed steel and plastic construction rather than shaped alloy. The shifters use a side button rather than a sub lever behind the brakes and while that works fine when holding the hoods, it’s awkward to reach if descending on the drops. On the plus side the three-cross spoking on the front and rear wheels plus 25mm Vera Helios tyres underline the smooth, easy speed ride of the Fuji really well. Screw clamp bar end plugs, split band seat clamp, a rubber logo sleeve on seat rails and leather textured tape also add a subtle touch of class.
However it’s on the ride where the class really shines through. As soon as you’re aboard the Sportive there’s an unmistakable sense of spring and buoyancy that we’d praise in a bike at the £1000 mark and really didn’t expect from a bike well under half that cost. The way the fork and frame flow and float over potholes, frost fractures and other rough road sections easily over rides the faint chuntering of gears and chain. Remarkably it stays the right side of taut and lively when you put the power down, with a real bounce and pounce in its stride despite the cheap Fuji branded cranks and the heaviest wheels on test.
The tall head tube and short stem definitely creates a more casual cruiser vibe, while the short stem means the steering is more lively and sensitive than the more stretched bikes here too. The wheelbase is long enough to stop it ever feeling nervous on descents though. While it’s smoothly sprung, we never felt the front end was bouncing or flexing out of control when we turned into corners. That tall front means getting down into the drops is less intimidating and orthopaedically challenging if you’re a nervous newbie or just stiff backed.
As much as the frame and ride quality is excellent, there’s no escaping the gulf in gearing performance compared to the other bikes here. That makes stretching to afford the £485 Claris and Sora equipped Sportive 2.3 well worth it as a later eight-speed self upgrade will work out a lot more expensive than £85 and you’d have a brilliant, effervescently enjoyable all rounder for a bargain price.
WORDS: Guy Kesteven PHOTOS: Mick Kirkman
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